Euro Cinema Group Criticizes Venice’s “Momentous Mistake” In Showcasing Netflix Movies

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Arthouse cinema group CICAE, whose members represent 4,000 screens in Europe, has criticized what it calls the Venice Film Festival’s “momentous mistake” in showcasing Netflix films in its lineup.

Netflix has had a healthy presence on the Lido this year with lauded drama Marriage Story and Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat playing in Competition and Timothée Chalamet-starrer The King playing Out Of Competition. While disquiet has been less apparent than last year, today CICAE (the International Confederation of Art Cinemas) sent out a long missive criticizing Venice, other festivals and the streamer, whose model either collapses or does away with the theatrical window.

François Aymé, President of CICAE’s French chapter, said the industry was reaching a “turning point”: “The co-operation between the main events (Cannes, Venice, Berlin), all facing Netflix with a united front, could once again compel the platform to reconsider its position. Nothing is irreversible and the conundrum over the release of Martin Scorsese’s new movie clearly shows that nothing is settled.”

He continued, “For the last sixty years, if national television channels wanted to have their place in the sun on the Lido, they had to respect some rules; co-produce films and diffuse them after their releases in cinemas. Should the global online platforms be exempted de facto from these obligations? General interest in films only comes after the special interest of a powerful company and the short-term vision of a festival largely funded by public money. Small companies are obliged to pay their taxes while multinational carry out tax optimisation.”

“Netflix is just like a large restaurant chain which would like to get three Michelin stars,” Aymé added. “It does have the ambition and the financial means, but it does not have the essence, let alone the vocation. Supporting and communication this ambition without negotiation is to betray the initial mission of a major festival, which must defend the works first and foremost.”

Heading into Venice, UNIC, the International Union Of Cinemas, also called for all films screening at festivals to have a full theatrical release.

CICAE, which today commended Cannes for not taking Netflix movies in Competition, has 2000 members in 44 countries, accounting for more than 4,000 screens. More than half of the members are in France.

Negative noise towards Netflix has been quieter this year during the festival, perhaps a sign that attitudes are shifting or that a new reality is setting in. The streamer’s logo has elicited boos at major festivals in the past. At this morning’s press screening for The King there was a smattering of boos but also applause.

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